This afternoon, I had to cover one of my worksites because we have an eight-week afterschool program for one of the local elementary schools. After touching base with the managers on duty, I hung around the parking lot to make sure that no unauthorized individuals entered the site, which is normally closed on Mondays. I like to take a low-key approach, informing anyone who enters the front gate that we are closed, but that some other local points of interest are available for visitors.
While I was lounging around the parking lot, I saw a vehicle enter, driven by a man who appeared to be in his sixties or seventies. He had an older man sitting in the front passenger's seat. The driver had long hair, a beard, and spectacles- he could have passed for an aging hippie, or an aging biker, or an off-duty new-age guru. I introduced myself and told him that we were closed, but would be open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. We spoke briefly about local affairs, and he told me that his dad, the ninety-five year-old man in the passenger's seat, used to work in the area until the 1970s and wanted to see his old stomping grounds.
The talk went very well until, somehow, the guy brought up politics, and noted that 'one of the candidates should be in jail' (oddly enough, I think I agree with him on the point, but with one significant difference). He lamented how corrupt politics had become, and I reminded him that politics have been corrupt since before the Teapot Dome Scandal. He lamented how bad things had become, and I reminded him that it was the rich who screwed things up so a worker couldn't put in thirty to forty years of honest work and retire with a wristwatch and a pension. Every point he brought up, I countered, gently bringing up the reality behind the rose-colored vision he had of history.
The conversation remained cordial, for the most part. He did drop a hint about 'even the poor black people were honest', which I deflected by noting that a lot of the necessary grunt work of the country was performed by poor black women who deserved much higher pay and decent benefits. For the most part, we talked about local affairs- even though the guy was now living in Colorado (I made a point of reminding him that this is a Spanish name), he grew up in the same neighborhood in Yonkers that I inhabit, going to middle school in the school across the street from my place. He asked me if I could help to locate the building where his dad worked decades ago, and I referred him to the local historical society, providing him with an address and a phone number.
After our talk, he tended to his dad, a World War 2 veteran, for a brief while, making sure his oxygen tank was properly connected and giving him a cup of water. We parted on good terms, but when he left, I felt a certain amount of melancholy. Here was a guy who isn't a bad man, he's just misinformed, and the gaps in his knowledge, or better yet, memory, have been filled with poison. I don't think he was a hateful person, just a scared and uncertain person. While I think he will make a deplorable choice in November, I don't think that he fits in the 'deplorable' half of Trump's 'basket'. He wasn't deplorable, just sad.